Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Complaints about refs go way back

How much can a referee influence the course of events? Of course, that’s a big question being debated these days. Any Braves fan knows that how a game is called can have a lasting impact.

In Buffalo Home of the Braves, we detail the deciding Game 6 of the 1974 playoff series between the Braves and the Boston Celtics. With time running out, the score tied, Braves star Bob McAdoo was called for fouling Boston guard Jo Jo White.

To this day, McAdoo believes that it was a cheap call. So does former team owner Paul Snyder. So does Van Miller, the Braves’ play-by-play man. (In fact, hours after that game, Miller told Bill Mazur, his friend and fellow WNY announcing legend, as much.) But what Braves coach Jack Ramsay will always remember about the way officials Darrell Garretson, Mendy Rudolph and Manny Sokol conducted themselves that evening at the Aud was that they should have put a second or two back on the game clock. Of course, this was well before the days of checking the courtside monitor.

Even with one second left, the Braves could have taken the ball at mid-court and tried for a desperation play at the buzzer. “That’s what I wanted,” Ramsay told me years later.

“Just one chance. With the way, Mac was shooting the ball.”

The Celtics went on to win the NBA championship that season. The Braves would never really get close again.

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